Blizzard defends Diablo 3 customization changes

At first glance, Diablo 3 may appear overly simplified when comparing it to Diablo 2.  The departure from skill trees, attribute points, etc. may look like Blizzard is "dumbing down" the customization system for players.

I, along with community manager Bashiok, are here to say that's just not the case – with Diablo 3 or any other Blizzard game for that matter.

"I guess that's the mentality I just can't understand. WoW players should be especially aware that skill tress provided them no choice. You had your build, and then you'd have a few 'left over points' that you could spend anywhere, and you could spend them anywhere because they didn't matter," Bashiok defended in the Diablo 3 forums. "What mattered was the way you spent down the tree, and there was really one one or two right ways to do that per spec. I can't understand how anyone could logically look at that situation and say "I have a lot of choices!" unless the answer is they have no idea how to play the game and actually are making a bunch of choices, which are the wrong ones, and building horrible characters."

"Diablo II was the exact same way. If you're not spending into synergies and boosting up a skill or two to max, you're probably doing it wrong," he added.

Bashiok went on to ask the rhetorical question: How is having potentially hundreds of viable skills and the ability to only choose 6 of them, which means billions of possible build combinations, worse than a skill tree where you have one or two correct decisions?

"There's only one logical answer to this, and that is people want to be locked into their decisions for better or worse because they feel that gives value to their choices," he answered. "They are smart for picking the right answer and building a better or more interesting character. That is absolutely a noble concept, but we fundamentally just don't agree that people need to be locked into something for their choices to be smart or meaningful. How does a 15g respec make your choices instantly more palatable? You're suddenly a character building genius because the guy next to you has to pay 15g to copy you? Come on."

"With billions of possible builds you will absolutely be doing something different than the guy next to you, and you making the skills you want to use work for you and be viable is a great achievement, because out of billions of possible builds how many do you think will actually work?"

Bashiok attributes the skepticism to the new Diablo 3 skill system to people just not used to the system.

"People have seen skill trees before, they know what they are, and a diversion away from them is jarring," he explained. "People like clicking a + button to spend attribute points, any systems attempting to make that more interesting or engaging is met with skepticism. I get it. It's tough to really understand how this is all going to play out together. I just constantly wish people took an approach of wanting to understand something before deeming it bad or wrong. Not to get preachy, but it's a nature that certainly extends beyond video games."

"One thing I'm sure of, and why I don't find much interest in entering the argument, is that it'll all change after the game is released and people can see the full game and its design for what it is," Bashiok concluded.

I'll admit, at first I was hesitant about the changes, but after playing the beta for a bit I grew to like it.  How do you feel about the changes to Diablo 3?